I've had to work at home a bit this year, because our offices are being renovated. Workspaces and storage areas are being rearranged, a fresh coat of paint is being added, and new carpet is being laid down. It's been a pretty smooth process, except for all the dust, the fumes from the paint and the carpet glue, the walls that go up mid-day in the middle of hallways, and the guy drilling through the other side of the wall about eight inches away from my head while I'm conducting an interview.
The thing about telecommuting is, I tend to do most of my corresponding through e-mail rather than the phone, and I've discovered that, if I'm not careful, I can go an entire workday without actually speaking to another human being (the dogs don't count). Once upon a time, I thought that sort of solitude would be a great situation, but now I know it's hard to go without the benefits of conversation.
(In fact, I recently proposed to our Managing Your Career columnist, Dave Jensen, that he write a column about techniques for telecommuters to stay in tune with their central office and to keep from growing unhinged. He didn't think it was that big of an issue in the pharma and biopharma industry, and I had to admit it was mainly for my benefit.)
Which brings me to INTERPHEX. Last September, I asked Pharma Outsourcing Guru - it's on his business card! - Mak Jawadekar to write about "what makes a good trade show experience" for his I, Mak column. This somehow led to him recounting the time he shared drinks with Ted Turner and Kofi Annan at a board meeting for a non-profit. His point, as near as I can tell, was that networking is everything.
There's debate about the viability of trade shows in the Internet era, but I think it's misguided. Yes, the web enables us to find more resources than we ever thought existed and expand our knowledge base (or, rather, outsource our knowledge to the likes of Google, Wikipedia, et al.), but research on a screen doesn't replace the value of good, face-to-face conversation.
For an industry in as much flux as pharma/bio-pharma is, we can't overestimate the importance of Mak's point. Virtually every contract service provider I know has told me at some point how interpersonal dynamics play a huge role in gaining and keeping business. Sure, you need the match of capabilities, timelines and cost, but you also need the moment in which both client and sponsor can say to themselves, a la Lady Thatcher, "We can do business together."
To help facilitate those conversations, Contract Pharma is partnering with INTERPHEX this year to sponsorthe inaugural INTERPHEXConnects One2One Sourcing & Services Meeting Center. The center not only allows forprivate meetings between contract service providers and attendees, it also creates an oasis of casual space in a central lounge area, a nexus point for chance conversations, for the "So what do you do?" exchange between potential client and provider.
If you're planning to attend INTERPHEX this year (March 29-31 at the Javits Center in New York City), visit www.interphex.com/one2onemeetings for more details about how to set up meetings with exhibitors in the Sourcing & Services pavilion.
And stop by our booth! I can use the conversation!
What I'm Reading
The Make-Believe Billion: How drug companiesexaggerate research costs to justify absurd profits.
By Timothy Noah, Slate � http://slate.me/ge78NW
Comment: Apparently, drugs only cost $55 million to discover. No wonder R&D productivity is falling apart and FDA approvals are near all-time lows! Try not to get infuriated.
Too Much Outsourcing: Has the Line Been Crossed?
Derek Lowe, In the Pipeline � http://bit.ly/hwp6BS
Comment: The blogpost that inspired this issue's Lowe Down column, about Boeing's disastrous outsourcing strategy for the 787. Some of the comments are good, although they tend to tar all pharma-outsourcing with the same brush, instead of focusing on the med-chem side, as Derek does.
Get to Market Now! Turn FDA Compliance into aCompetitive Edge in the Era of Personalized MedicineBy John Avellanet, Cerulean Associates �http://www.amazon.com/dp/1934899127/
Comment: I'm just starting this book by our contributing writer and conference speaker; expect a review in April or May.
What are you reading? Let me know at email@example.com,www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1775433or www.facebook.com/contractpharma
Editor - firstname.lastname@example.org / twitter.com/contractpharma